Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sleeping in a Graveyard

Sometimes, just at the moment I wake, I think I must be sleeping in a graveyard --luckily the ghostly pasts evaporate as my mind lights up.

Anyway, here is the article of the year that's lived longest in my thoughts.


Thanks to the JavaJive it's still on the net.

The Secret Family of Jesus

I watched this on Christmas Day. Very interesting. It basically uncovers a more human side of Jesus, which I find very appealing. A good watch for people interested in the history of all that jazz -- would be very interested in seeing some similar programs on Islam and Mohammad.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to the Future

I saw Back to the Future today. It ranks up there with Rush Hour 2 as one of my favourite films. It's ingeniously crafted, everything fits so well together.

Apart from being a blast, Back to the Future has a little philosophy in it too. It reminded me of this post and Candide (it must've been a decade since I read it).

Candide shows how absurd the idea that "everything is for the best" is. Religious people nowadays often seem to be of a similar passive ilk to Candide, when they qualify what they say with "God willing" and think God has a scheme behind all suffering -- if it happens it must be God's will and some greater good must come of it (however unfathomable it is to us lesser beings).

In Tika's post linked above, she says that works like Candide helped give us the modern world. Candide shows people that they don't have to passively accept "God's will" and that they should actively improve their lot (easier said than done I suppose).

In Back to the Future, Marty changes his parent's past and changes his family's lives for the better. Nowadays, Michael J. Fox campaigns for stem cell research to help cure genetic diseases, in an effort to roll back "God's will" and make countless lives better.

You have to respect those people who /actively/ fight and struggle against all odds in a bid to change our presents and futures for the better.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gone Virtual

I've finally ogtten around to testing out virtual machines - i.e. you can run one operating system within another. Sweet Jesus, I can run XP under Linux with no discernible performance hit for either OS! [My machine is a pretty old, made from spare parts -- 1700 AMD, 756mb]

Not sure what I'll actually use XP for, but whenever did that matter :).

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Price is one of those extremely simple things, which helps to create incredibly complex things.

Price is so natural to us, we rarely think much about it.

I remember reading somewhere, that we should stop every so often and wonder at the art, genius and craft that's gone into even the simplest of everyday objects.

Look around your desk and pick out any object. A pencil for example. What is the pencil made of? Lead, wood, a paint and or lacquer over the wood. The paint itself is made up of many chemicals, the wood is fashioned by some complex machinery, and of course comes from forested wood. The lead is actually graphite something or other, probably mined. (example from Milton Friedman's TV series).

So a simple pencil actually is made up from dozens of raw materials, the materials are produced, processed and distributed directly or indirectly by perhaps hundreds of people on different continents speaking different languages.

All these people worked together in some way to put that pencil in your hand, ready to use.

How did they cooperate? Price.

I suspect price is the most important factor in civilisation, more important than democracy, science or the arts. Price is so simple (--has any society been discovered without some sense of price?) but helps coordinate and build things of amazing complexity and beauty.

Problems occur when prices aren't set by buyer and seller but interfered with by governments, a corrupt official or another third party. Increased prices to hire someone (e.g. income taxes, official corruption) lower employment. Lower subsidised prices, promote wastage, for example the food mountains of the EU. European farmers are given good prices for producing food that no one eats!

When prices aren't meddled with, vibrant societies are created which depend on nothing much other than /people/, e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland. (As a side note, I suspect that there's a negative correlation between countries rich in natural resources and their place in the human development index.)

Human Development Index:
Ease of Doing Business Index:
Economic Freedom:

Monday, December 18, 2006


"The People's Republic of China"

What a spectacular oxymoron!

Features vs. Freedom

A popular version of Linux, Ubuntu, is debating whether to include proprietary 3D drivers by default. Something which goes against the principles of Free and Opensource Software. My comment on this post:

john says

I don’t see any problem here.

The FOSS community has been made of many different views and interests since the start. E.g. Linus’ interest in making a good OS, RMS’ interest in wanting to save the world etc. etc.

Canonical has a right to make a call on this and other issues - as long as they stay within the terms of the GPL and other licenses. Just as Novell, Xandros and Linspire etc. have.

The GPL isn’t dictatorial, Canonical /should/ shape Ubuntu in a way it sees fit, in order to achieve /Canonical’s/ goals and visions. If they are successful, then kudos to them, if not, that’s a pity (e.g. Novell’s debacle) but the FOSS community will go on!

It’s a free market! One of the great legacies of the GPL after all!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Brains Behind the Most Powerful Man in Software

Free and open source software is important, Eben Moglen explains why on this MP3.

Some of his economics is a little befuddled, but he means good :)

Oh and by the way, Richard Stallman is THE most powerful man in software. He has been a visionary, perhaps still is ahead of his time.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are We Waves?

Think about a ripple in water. The wave moves horizontally, however the water molecules actually move vertically. The water molecules aren't a part of the wave, they just react to it when it passes through.


Apparently /all/ of the matter from which we are built from is renewed every 9 years - matter flows in and out.

Richard Dawkins pointed out in his book 'The God Delusion' (referring to 'Creation' by Steve Grand) that the the memories we have from childhood aren't really memories about ourselves, as now we are made up of completely different matter.

Which means, whatever we are, we are /not/ the stuff of which we are made!

How fascinating!

Perhaps we are more like waves more than anything else.

Why Are Regular Expressions So Hard?

Why do I feel I need to code a program using them?

And why isn't there a better way!!??

What Are Waves?

I have little idea.


A moving disturbance in the energy level of a field.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

December 9th

And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions

-- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

Those lines have have been stuck in my head since school.


I wonder why some feelings are so obstinate. Perhaps because they are the remnants of strong foundations, built for futures that never arrived, to support hopes now forgotten and archaic.


This seems kind of appropriate.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert....Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-- Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, December 08, 2006


Polygyny is when men have multiple partners - whereas polygamy is where either sex have multiple partners. /Polygyny/ is legal in Indonesia. This week however a popular Muslim preacher admitted to recently marrying a second wife - and the issue erupted.

Here's my take on polygany (posted on,

At 12/08/2006 10:26:09 AM, johnorford said...
Polygyny happens in societies when men can get away with it, it's a hold-up problem pure and simple, wives have /no/ options but to go along with it.

I imagine societies where polygany is common, are also extremely prone to domestic abuse. E.g. a husband can get away with abusing his wives, knowing they have no other options - again a hold up problem.

Why is it that I only see "intellectual" men pontificating about this subject and not disagreeing with it (bleuuch) (apart from Dhani).

So I suppose polygany is an obvious symptom of chronic inequality, other abuses are just less obvious. Banning it won't solve the root problem, but common practice of polygany is a warning of what is happening under the surface of the society.

(See this too)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I don't know why we are here...

...but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.

-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Economics from the Master

Great videos from the late Milton Friedman (maybe the greatest economist in the last 100 years).

Skip the first 5 minutes of Arnie...

Amazing how the issues don't really change.

Update: same vids on Google video


Have been thinking too much about religion recently.

Maybe this comment of mine draws a line under my thinking...

>Faith is all about unquestioning.

do you question yourself why Israel does these terrible acts to your country folk? do Israelis really try to figure out why Hizbollah, Hamas etc. terrorise them? did Americans think much about the motives for 9/11?

– no it’s all “evil”.

such good unquestions. diligent unthinking.

is it a coincidence that each side is staunchly religious?

From the (v nice blog...)

that comment could apply to any dogma - communism, pancasila...